What To Look For When Buying A Horse

What To Look For When Buying A Horse

Article by C Steel

Knowing what to look for when buying a horse can make the whole process a lot less risky. How many times have you heard of someone buying a horse only later to find out the real reason it was sold. By following some simple steps you can lesson the chances of buying someone elses problems.

The first thing you need to do when deciding to buy a horse is be honest with yourself about your experience. If you are just starting out or have never bought horses before I strongly suggest you take an experienced person with you to view a horse. I should clarify that…by experienced I do not mean someone who is a fantastic rider, trainer, horseperson, I mean someone who is experienced at buying horses. Yes some people are both but handling, riding, training horses is not the same as buying them. Buying horses needs someone who knows the tricks and traps to avoid and can spot them a mile away.

Don’t know anyone who is experienced at buying horses? No problem just go along to your local pony club, riding club or any other equine club and you should find someone willing to help. A word of caution if you do this make sure they are not best friends with the person selling the horse.

You have found what sounds like an ideal horse and arranged a look at it, what now. First thing to do is turn up a little early (10 – 15 minutes should do it). There is a good reason behind this, you want to know if the horse is hard to catch. If the horse is already caught ask the seller to let the horse out again so you can see it being caught.

When you arrive also look around the property it will give you a good indication of how well the horse is looked after. A clean property with good fencing, no signs of cribbing or stall kicking and no rubbish laying around is what you want to see. A little tip for you, if there is a rubbish bin near the stable have a little peek in it without being too obvious. People have been known to give something to their horses to calm them for sale you may just find evidence of this.

You have seen the horse being caught and the property looks good, no sedatives in the bin so what next. Observe the horse when it is being saddled. Does the horse stand still, not nervous (the horse not you)? No nipping or kicking when being saddled? Look for little signs like tail twitching, ears laying back, basically observe the horses body language.

Do a physical check of the horse, lift its feet, run your hands down its legs, run you hands along its back, run your hands over its head. If you are not confident doing this let an experienced person do this for you. Doing this not only lets you see how well the horse stands when being handled but also lets you find any tender spots that may be an indication of more serious problems.

The next step is to observe the same things when the seller gets on and rides the horse. Does the horse stand still when mounting and wait for the rider to signal when to move off? The horse should not show any signs of being nervous (watch the rider for any signs of nerves too) and should not fight any commands. Does the horse transition easily from a walk to a trot and a trot to a canter? Stop easily? Walk on from a stop easily? Get the rider to do a figure eight, then ask them to go the other way doing a figure eight. Often a horse will show its true colors when asked to do something different.

If all has gone well so far it is time to try the horse yourself. Pay attention to all of the things you did when watching the owner ride the horse. Does it respond calmly and confidently to you? Pay attention to your gut feelings and if something does not feel right don’t ignore it as it may be something you have picked up subconciously.

The final few tips I have for buying horses are common sense. Ask the owner lots of questions, why are they selling? How long have they had the horse? What activities have they used the horse for? Are there registration papers? What is it like being riden with other horses? Has it had any illnesses or injuries? Has it been vaccinated and if yes when are the boosters due? When was it last drenched? Pay attention to how the seller answers, look for any hestitation and other indicators of lying.

Buying a horse is an exciting time but do not let your emotions lead you. When you get the right horse you are getting much more than something to ride around on. You are getting a companion who you will have many enjoyable years riding with so take your time and find the one that is right for you.

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